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Bill forces police to share student records

By TODD RICHMOND
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Police would have to notify school administrators whenever they arrest a student for a violent crime under a Republican bill that would relax juvenile criminal record confidentiality.

All Wisconsin juvenile criminal records are automatically sealed right now. Under Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt’s bill, police departments that take a student into custody on suspicion of a violent crime would have to notify the student’s school administrator before the next school day begins.

The school board or private school governing body must notify teachers who work directly with the student of the incident as soon as practical, preferably before the student attends their classes. Teachers could ask their school boards to suspend students if their administrators refuse.

Conversely, principals or other school administrators would have to notify police within 24 hours of learning a student physically assault or committed a violent crime against somebody at school or at a school-sponsored activity if requested by a witness or adult victim such as a teacher. The bill also would allow teachers who have been attacked to terminate their contacts or take leave without being penalized.

The state Department of Public Instruction would have to post online a list of teacher’s rights, including their right to remove a student from the classroom for up to two days and the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves and their students. The list would include several new rights created under the bill, including the right to receive information about a pupil taken into custody for a violent crime and the right to request a suspension hearing.

Thiesfeldt aide Hariah Hutkowski said Thiesfeldt is still drafting the bill and hasn’t formally introduced it. Thiesfeldt did not immediately respond to an interview request The Associated Press made through Hutkowski.

Wenona Wolf, a spokeswoman for Kids Forward, a group that advocates for opportunities for children, said no one in her organization had seen the bill and declined comment. DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

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